The term “Tejano” came to be applied in the 1980s to popular music rooted in South Texas. Tejano does not describe a singular musical style; rather, it refers to a long process of musical hybridity. During Tejano’s formative years in the ‘60s, musical ensembles including the conjunto, the orquesta, and rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll combos laid the foundations. These ensembles brought different musical styles into the mix such as polcas, rancheras, blues, rock, country, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms.
In the ‘70s the music solidified, not into a cohesive style, but into a new consciousness and pride in Chicano culture referred to as La Onda Chicana (The Chicano Wave). It was simultaneously “going back to its roots” and moving forward into modernity. This movement produced music that had commercial success in the late 1980s and continues to grow in popularity internationally.
Popular Tejano singers include Laura Canales and Selena. The Grammy Award-winning accordionist Flaco Jimenez, son of conjunto musician Santiago Jimenez, has also been an ambassador of Tejano music. A constant reconfiguration of instrumentation that includes bajo sexto, horns, drums, congas, keyboards, electric guitar and bass—and almost always the accordion—bears witness to the shifting tastes and persistent innovation of Tejano musicians.